Students Bring Home 1st Place from National History Day

Updated: August 01, 2018 05:48 PM

Mayor Emily Larson got a bit of a history lesson on Wednesday. Her teachers? Two soon-to-be 7th graders from Duluth, Colin McShane and Chase Baumgarten.

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The two boys brought home 1st place from the National History Day competition in Washington, D.C. 

The theme for 2018 was Conflict and Compromise in History. Colin and Chase picked their topic of mining and the Reserve Mining case based on where they live, which is close to Lake Superior. "The U.S. Government vs. Reserve Mining Company, a Compromise of Pollution and Industry" was the title of their work.

For 8 months, they worked on this project. "Now I know a lot more about everything that goes into the lake, and the iron mining industry, and taconite in general," Colin said.

Research involved interviews of people who were part of the landmark environmental case, including Grant Merritt. They even used recordings of the interviews, and put them into the display. With the push of a button, you can listen to Merritt or others. 

Reserve Mining was sued by the EPA and Justice Department in the 1970s for dumping tailings into Lake Superior. Judge Miles Lord eventually shut down the plant. It's been reopened since then, and operates now as Northshore Mining.

The boys got a tour of the plant, to help them with their project. Chase told us, "My favorite part was the furnace rooms, where we get to see the pellets. It was really fun to watch." 

After hours of work, they won the state level competition. Then, after tweaking the exhibit even more, they moved on to nationals. Their names were announced as the winner in the Group Exhibit, Junior Division.

"It was really exciting. We weren't expecting to win," Chase recalled. The boys and their families were there for the big moment at the University of Maryland.

Mayor Larson was touched to hear the news. She went to nationals as a junior high student as well. "I remember it being a really important experience, when I was there. Just being able to be around other people who thought history was cool. Clearly this team has a done a phenomenal job. I'm super, super proud of them."

Colin thought it was interesting she went as well. 

Colin and Chase attend Stella Maris. Congratulations to them!

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